One dead in Rayong gas tank blast
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One dead in Rayong gas tank blast

Fire contained after 6 hours as area evacuated and operations shut down at SCG Chemicals site

Flames and smoke spread from a tank of pyrolysis gasoline that caught fire at Map Ta Phut Port in Rayong on Thursday morning. (Photo: Emergency Incident Command of Rayong)
Flames and smoke spread from a tank of pyrolysis gasoline that caught fire at Map Ta Phut Port in Rayong on Thursday morning. (Photo: Emergency Incident Command of Rayong)

RAYONG: A huge blaze at a chemical storage site at the Map Ta Phut Industrial Port was brought under control late Thursday afternoon, after one person died and hundreds were evacuated from the surrounding area.

The fire started around 10.30am when a large pyrolysis gasoline (pygas) tank exploded at Map Ta Phut Tank Terminal Co Ltd in the eastern province.

The incident led to the shutdown of operations at the terminal of SCG Chemicals Plc (SCGC), the petrochemical arm of Siam Cement Group (SCG).

The fire eventually spread, sending huge plumes of acrid black smoke into the air, before finally being brought under control at 4.50pm, according to the Rayong provincial public relations office. Crews were continuing to spray coolant on the tanks.

Officials said two tanks sustained fire damage. Each was 18 metres high and 30 metres in diameter with a capacity of 2,500 cubic metres.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) declared a Level 2 Emergency in the area. Level 2 means an uncontrollable emergency situation that causes damage to people, property, operations or the environment and requires evacuation.

IEAT governor Veeris Ammarapala ordered the immediate evacuation of everyone from the port and the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate as the fire was spreading.

Firefighters at one point said they had to withdraw from the site for safety because the blaze was becoming uncontrollable. (Story continues below)

Fire-damaged tanks stand surrounded by foam and coolant after the blaze at Map Ta Phut Tank Terminal was extinguished on Thursday afternoon. (Photo: Fire and Rescue Thailand)

Witnesses reported hearing a loud explosion at the terminal around 2.20pm and seeing chemicals spilled on the ground. By mid-afternoon it was reported that three tanks were on fire.

The IEAT called on relevant organisations to help contain the blaze and arrangements were also made to pump seawater to cool down nearby tanks at the site.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, writing on his X account, said a war room had been set up to coordinate the response to the disaster.

Patrol vehicles were being deployed to measure air quality in upwind and downwind areas. As well, he said, authorities coordinated with SCG to use boats to speed up evacuations.

Residents in the Nong Fab and Takuan-Ao Pradu communities in tambon Map Ta Phut were evacuated to the government complex in Rayong.

The Map Ta Phut municipal office advised affected people to take shelter at Map Ta Phut Pan Pittayakhan School, Ban Map Ta Phut School and Nam Rin beach or move to other areas considered safe.

Firefighters spray coolant onto tanks after bringing the blaze under control around 4.50pm. (Video by Eastern Firefighters Club)

Firefighters were first alerted to the incident around 10.45am. SCG said that four people were injured and taken to hospital. One of the injured, an employee, succumbed to their injuries.

SCG said the fire began in a tank containing a C9+ hydrocarbon compound, a byproduct from the production of precursors for manufacturing plastic pellets. The compound is utilised as a solvent.

Video from the scene showed a huge blaze atop the tank, emitting thick plumes of black smoke.

The affected tank, situated among numerous large tanks, is part of a commercial port and storage terminal at Map Ta Phut Port in Muang district of Rayong. The site is designated for the storage of liquid and gaseous petrochemical products.

Pygas, a by-product of making olefins, can be used as a high-octane benzene blending component or for aromatics extraction.

(Video by Fire and Rescue Thailand)

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